Mr. Paul Tawiah Quaye, IGP
Whilst on my way home last week Friday, I had a call from our Tema correspondent informing me that a police officer on guard duty at UBA in Tema had been killed by armed robbers. Earlier, a colleague journalist had also called to inform me about the incident. I also saw the footage which was shown by Ghana Television (GTV) on its 10:30 news bulletin.
The innocent police officer in question was shot in the head by the armed bandits, whilst a private security guard was seriously injured in the waist and leg. The robbers then reportedly entered the banking hall, and after taking possession of the AK 47 assault rifle the police man was using, seized huge sums of money from the cashiers and fled. Whilst fleeing the scene, the robbers also shot and wounded a Land cruiser driver, who they thought was trying to block their movement.
It is instructive to note that this is not the first time that such robbery incident has occurred. About three years ago, a group of armed robbers went to the ECOBANK branch at Madina, a suburb of Accra, on a robbery spree.
In that case too, the police officer on guard duty was shot and killed by the robbers. Just a year or so ago, another bank was also robbed at the Accra Mall. This time, the police man on guard duty escaped unhurt, but some of the customers got injured.
Until the early 1990s, armed robbery was alien to Ghanaians, especially high way robbery. But the situation has dramatically changed as a result of a number of factors. In the early 2000, petrol stations across the country, especially those in Accra, became the target for armed robbers.
Several innocent people lost their lives at the hands of these robbers. The police administration in its attempt to curb this negative development instituted several measures which helped to bring the situation under control.
The robbery of banks by armed robbers and the concomitant killing of police guards have been on the ascendency for some years now. One would have, therefore, thought that the police would come out with a strategy that would neutralize the strategy of the robbers, but nothing is being done to protect the lives of the police men and women guarding these banks.
Personally, I do not see why in this modern age, police men on guard duty should be caged in front of the bank. In simple terms, these officers have criminally been exposed to armed robbers and they would continue to kill them if the police administration does not come to the realization that putting their officers just in front of the bank is a wrong decision.
In war or difficult situations, you always change tactics to outwit your opponents. The police administration should have by now known that it is no more tenable to ask their personnel who are mostly junior staff to sit in a small kiosk and claim to be providing security.
Any hardened criminal who wants to rob a bank would not find it difficult, because it is just a matter of walking to the kiosk to shoot the police man or woman who, at that material moment, is not ready for gun battle.
Since many customers walk in and out of the banking hall, it would be very difficult for the police man on guard duty to determine that the one approaching has a gun to fire at him. To me, the best way to fight this emerging crime is to position the guard police men in the banking hall, where they cannot be seen by the public.
The banks must also be advised to invest in the acquisition of CCT cameras, which must be monitored from a special room, during the banking hours.
Anyone who has visited the Aboadze Thermal Plant in the Western Region would attest to the fact that they have this system of security in place, therefore, before one could make the attempt to attack, they would have already called in the armed security men to come and deal with the situation.
I believe if the various banks in this country put in these measures, they would be in the position to know immediately they are attacked, because they are already monitoring the activities going on in the banking hall and all other offices.
The police man or woman who is sitting in an unknown place in the building can then come out to fight the robbers from a safe position. Thank God, I have visited a number of advanced countries, and there is nowhere that I saw a police man or woman sitting in a kiosk that has been positioned in front of a bank to provide security.
The banks, like the Aboadze Thermal case I just commented on, have put in the necessary measures which enable them to call in the police anytime they come under attack. The police also respond immediately. In this era of information technology, it is wrong to put a police man in front of a bank, thinking that it would prevent armed robbery.
This is not practised in any civilized country and the earlier the police administration reviews this security strategy, the better it would be for them. The argument that the presence of the police guards help to scare away potential armed robbers does not hold water anymore, judging from the recent shedding of innocent blood that the country has experienced.
If the points I have raised have not come to the attention of the Inspector General of Police, then he does not deserve to hold that enviable position, because the nation can no more sit down unconcerned, when police men and women who are supposed to protect us and who are also bread winners in their respective families are slaughtered in such a barbaric way, as we are experiencing now.
The incident of the police man who was killed like a fowl by the heartless armed robbers in Tema should be the last time Ghanaians would hear about such killings. The time has come for the police administration and the IGP in particular, to find an antidote to the security lapse and that time to act is now!
If the banks are not prepared to invest in modern security methods that I have already enumerated to help the police fight against the menace, then the IGP must withdraw his men and women, instead of sitting down aloof for them to be slaughtered like we are experiencing now.
America is miles away from Ghana, but their security can determine what is going on in this country, due to the investment they have made in information technology. I concede that Ghana is a developing country and cannot, therefore, match America's technology, but that does not mean that our banks cannot invest in CCT cameras that must be monitored by specially assigned personnel during the banking hours.
I am aware that most of the well established banks operating in the country have CCT camera facilities, but the bottom line is that these cameras are only reviewed after an incident has happened. They are not monitored on TV screens by a special unit of the bank during the banking hours.